Yes, I was at my usual haunt the Sydney Markets at Flemington again…howdja guess?
As I drove there, I vowed to just shop, and not to take photos or write about the market. But…argh! There’s so much excellent produce in season that I just cannot keep this information to myself.
So here is a blog post that is….
Dirty Wholesome, Cheap and Nasty Nice
This post is being published on the weekend so that Sydneysiders doing grocery shopping on Sunday can look out for some bargains.
Although neighbourhood shops may not offer Flemington Market prices, at least you know what is in season, fresh and good VFM (value for money).
1) $1 for 500g of Burdekin Corn
Below: Before agreeing to have his picture taken, the vendor wanted reassurance that my article wouldn’t appear in Playboy.
Recipe idea: Chicken and corn soup
8 chicken wings, 1.5 litres of water, 4 slices ginger, 1 large onion, 4 pips garlic, 1 tsp whole peppercorns, as much corn kernels (off the cob) as desired, salt to taste
2) $1 for not one but TWO bunches of baby rocket leaves
This will go down a treat with slices of pears I bought today, some shaved parmegiano reggiano, extra virgin olive oil infused with lemon rind and toasted fresh walnuts.
If the leaves get a bit wilty in the fridge overnight, I will freshen them up by soaking in a basin of iced water for 20 minutes before use.
3) $1 for 1 kilo of Packham pears
Apologies for the, ahem, crack at scatological humour in the picture. Butt you will forgive me, seeing as I’ve been exposed to books like this around the house (also an outlay of only $1, thanks to book vouchers earned by its juvenile readers).
Yes indeedy, that’s my family: all class.
4) $1 for a butternut pumpkin
A delicious, low-fat pumpkin soup that doesn’t need its usual hanger-on of sour cream.
5) $1 for half a kilo of Afourer mandarins
Seeds. The two that I ate were seedless. Afourers are known to have very few, if any, seeds.
Flavour. Sweet, with no trace of acidity. Juicy. Not as fragrant as the Imperial mandarin, but its above features make it a good substitute for kids’ lunchboxes now that the Imperial mandarin season is over.
Did you know? “Afourer’ is the name of the town in Morocco where this variety of mandarin was first developed.
6) $1 for 300g of baby king mushrooms
The great thing is, they’re so little you can use most of them whole. No cutting = Time saved.
- Stir fry with vegetable oil, grated ginger, chopped garlic and soy sauce, over high heat till they squeak. Halfway through, slide in half a teaspoon of butter.
- Use in a broth, such as the chicken and corn soup in #1 above.
- Skewer them and stick them on the barbie.
7) $1 for a beautiful 1-kilo white radish
The young Korean stallholders were a joy to watch, alternating between:
~ energetic yells of “OnedollaronedollaroneDOLLAR!” and
~ serving customers like ajummas (middle-aged Korean ladies) with softly-spoken pleasantries and smiles.
8) $1 for half a kilo of Batlow Fuji apples
I also bought 20kg of ultra-sweet, large, juicy Late Lane navel oranges from Morris for $15 – that’s 75¢/kg for large, fist-sized, perfectly fresh oranges!
9) $1 for an I-kid-you-not colossal bunch of curly parsley
But with kale in season, the children and I have loved eating chips made of ruffled greens (nothing saintly there – they taste a lot like Korean seasoned seaweed, mmm mm).
So I thought I’d experiment with a different type of ruffle. More on this in the “Honorable Mentions” section below.
10) $1 for 4 sweet green kiwifruit ($2.20/kg)
There’s a new variety of green kiwifruit that has had its acidity bred out of it.
Even my small son who normally insists on eating the golden kiwifruit will eat this.
Standing beside me now, the boy wishes to caution my readers that the sweet green kiwifruit is less juicy than the golden one. If I’m in doubt, I quiz the stallholder and ask for a taste. Otherwise I’ll be saddled with consuming a whole bag of sour green kiwifruit by myself.
So, that’s the end of the $1 bargain bin. Except it’s not fair to use the “bargain bin” label, because all the produce was first-class (even that classy pear). I am one lucky shopper.
At $1.50 to $5, these items exceeded the $1 limit. But they still offer excellent VFM.
H.M. #1: $2.50 for 1 kilo of blood oranges
Not like some pink-fleshed oranges that others might pass off as blood oranges. One blush does not a blood orange make.
Eating these make me worry about staining my white shirt – now, that’s a true blue red orange.
H.M. #2: $1.50 for ½ kg fresh green beans
H.M. #3: $1.50 for 1 kg of young snow peas
These are tender and soft, with the peas inside still flat and undeveloped. I expect to be able to pull out very little string.
Blanch in boiling water with a dash of vegetable oil, drain quickly and toss in oyster sauce and garlic oil.
H.M. #4: $1.50 for a bunch of kale
If you remember only one thing about this post, make it this: Kale is in season NOW.
It was everywhere in the Sydney Market. It was at my local fruit barn. It was at Harris Farm (a beautiful specimen, with leaves attached to the central stem – quite rare!).
If you’ve ever wondered what it tastes like, there’s no better time to try it.
Below: Kale (left) and Tuscan kale (right)
With both types of kale, and also the curly parsley, I tossed the leaves in oil, sprinkled salt, and stuck them in a 190-degree Celsius oven. Take out BEFORE the entire leaf goes brown (and bitter). Detailed instructions here.
Alternatively, steamed kale is also surprisingly lovely. The stiff leaves turn silky soft upon steaming.
Under the grill, Tuscan kale (the flatter one, below right) had less of a bitter aftertaste. Regular kale (below left) became super crisp thanks to its ruffles.
Parsley, due to its fine texture, was delicate and crisp beyond words. It was so fragile that a piece falling from the overloaded bowl would shatter on the table. I still can’t decide whether I like the intensified grassiness that comes from grilling.
H.M. #5: $5 for 12 bunches of broccolini
I’d love to eat more broccolini, but usually can’t bear to pay $3 or more for a tiny bunch. This carton will give me my fix!
You say cliched, I say classic: Steam broccolini. Drizzle melted burnt butter over it. Scatter with toasted almonds. Add salt to taste.
It’s all relative, of course. I have a food tour guest from Armidale who pays $50/kg to get it specially delivered. “At least it’s even available,” he says cheerfully.
Recipe idea: Sweet and sticky lotus root
Apart from soup, my favourite way of eating lotus root is with a sticky, sweet soy coating.
- Peel and thinly slice 500g lotus root.
- Add the lotus root slices to a pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and boil for up to 5 minutes to slightly soften.
- Drain the cooking liquid until you’re left with <1cm of liquid in the pot. (You can keep the drained liquid water to add to chicken stock – its mild, nutty flavour and slightly thick consistency adds body and interest to chicken soup.)
- Into the pot add 3 dessertspoons of light soy sauce, 3 tsp sugar and half tsp grated ginger. Cook, uncovered, on medium heat until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
- Refrigerate to let the flavours seep in. You’ll find that the sauce goes sticky overnight.
- Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving as a cold snack or with steamed rice.
For trading times of the fresh food retail markets at Sydney Markets at Flemington, click here and scroll to “Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets – Sydney Markets”.
- 3 Local Secrets about the Sydney Markets
- $2 Food Shopping from Farmers Markets
- 5 Incredible $1 Deals from the Best Sydney Farmers Market
- Bargain!! $105 for Quality Fruit for My Family…for 1 Month!
If you liked this post…
…be a friend and leave me a comment. Do you go through phases of liking a particular seasonal food so much that you cook it again and again? (I know of someone who was mad-keen on brussels sprouts and came up with a great recipe that she used for weeks.)